Top Dem: No agreement on Iran bill as nuclear deal deadline approaches

Top Dem: No agreement on Iran bill as nuclear deal deadline approaches
© Keren Carrion

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s top Democrat said Wednesday that he and the committee's chairman are not close to an agreement on Iran legislation as a deadline approaches for President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE to kill the nuclear deal or keep it afloat.

“We’ve had very positive discussions, but no, we have not,” Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinOvernight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Bipartisan group wants to lift Medicaid restriction on substance abuse treatment More Dems come out in public opposition to Kavanaugh MORE (D-Md.) told reporters when asked if he and committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerPoll: More voters oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination than support it Ford opens door to testifying next week Police arrest nearly two dozen Kavanaugh protesters MORE (R-Tenn.) have come to an understanding on the terms of the legislation.

“Someone asked me, 'Would you consider it a framework of issues?’ and I said, ‘That’s accurate.’ We know what areas we have to deal with, but there’s not been language that has been even shopped at this stage.”

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Trump must decide by Friday whether to continue waiving key sanctions that were lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear accord between the United States, Iran, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Trump is expected to continuing waiving the sanctions and cite progress made on the legislation he’s asked for to address issues he sees with the nuclear deal.

Corker has been touting progress on the bill, though he’s said there will be no concrete product by this week’s deadline.

Cardin on Wednesday said he was not contradicting Corker, but that he thinks the progress has more been with European allies.

“I don’t mean to contradict my chairman because the two of us are almost always on the same page,” Cardin said. "I really think it’s more the Europeans meeting with the White House than it is any of us.”

Cardin added that the need for more work on the bill is a reason Trump should not reimpose sanctions Friday.

“I made it clear to the White House that we still have work to do and that’s why Friday or next week is not a realistic time,” he said. “We’ve got to go to our caucuses. I’ve got to bring in other committees. There’s a lot of work to be done in the process, and we’re not near that. I think the administration and advisers have operated in good faith in trying to get something moving, but we’re not there yet.”

Cardin said he does not know what Trump will do Friday, but that he “can’t comprehend” why Trump wouldn’t continue waiving sanctions.

“I can’t comprehend any reason why the president would not sign the waiver on Friday,” he said. “It’s in the best interest of our national security to sign that waiver, so to me, this should be a very simple decision. He can pull out of the Iran agreement on any day he wants to. He doesn’t need a deadline to pull out of the agreement. So nothing is gained, lots is lost if the president doesn’t sign the waiver.”